Protons for Breakfast

The last few moments of the 20th presentation of Protons for BReakfast. (Picture by Lindsay Chapman)

The last few moments of the 20th presentation of Protons for Breakfast. (Picture by Lindsay Chapman)

Last Thursday I finished the twentieth and final presentation of Protons for Breakfast and this weekend I am busy trying to do nothing. Mainly sleeping, but in turn feeling sad, happy, proud and relieved.

I am lost for words. However, despite being lost for words, I want to say three things.

Thing one: Thank you

I have loved putting on the course and learned so much in so many ways in doing so. So the first words are simple:

  • Thank You.

To whom?

  • To ‘the helpers’ without whom the course would not be possible: it is rare to have such great colleagues and friends.
  • To the expert helpers – especially those who travelled to take part.
  • To my wife and children who have put up with 12 weeks of psychological absence each year for the last 10 years.
  • To NPL management, especially Fiona Auty, who has supported this kind of thoroughly non-corporate outreach.
  • To everyone who attended, because fundamentally the course was for, and about, you rather than me.

And finally to Jorge Ramirez who – just when I thought I had been given the ultimate gift (a framed triple-point of water cell!) topped that with the Protons for Breakfast Song!

Thing two: So why am I stopping?

Protons for Breakfast is a very personal course: and it needs to be presented by me.

That is part of what has made it successful – that I am genuinely present and not reading from any kind of script – but ultimately that makes it unsustainable.

This wasn’t what I thought originally. I had hoped that members of the team of helpers would take over parts of the course and that gradually it would become more of ‘a production’.

However, making that shift would have involved much more work – and since I wasn’t able to make that change, it seemed better to just keep on doing what we had been doing.

The immediate reason for stopping now doesn’t really matter. But the more profound reason is that this kind of activity – relatively free-form and focussed on a particular individual – does not sit easily in any kind of modern corporate structure.

So despite the good will and support from many individuals, ending the course while it was popular and successful was probably best for all concerned.

And hopefully NPL or someone else will ‘pick the bones’ of the course and create a replacement that is sustainable.

Thing three: What Next?

I don’t know. And at this point, I don’t want to think about it.

But I do have a few ideas! And if I ever catch my breath and get my energy back, perhaps I will actually make them real. Because:

Protons for Breakfast… is what you need…
Protons for Breakfast… will get you thinking…


7 Responses to “Protons for Breakfast”

  1. Andrew Says:


  2. averilh Says:


  3. Bernadette D'Souza Says:


    Perhaps this could evolve into the Massive Protons for Breakfast via a MOOC or FutureLearn course?

    Protons for Breakfast… is what everyone needs…
    Protons for Breakfast… will get everyone thinking..

    Happy Christmas and every best wish for 2015

  4. Dominic Says:

    I hope that you will keep up this occasional ‘blog’!

    • protonsforbreakfast Says:


      Yes. This was 499th blog story and so I am hoping to have a super-good story for the 500th! Indeed I have a long list of stories that I am desperate to tell. I just need a bit of time to catch my breath!

      Happy Christmas and all that


  5. iamamro Says:

    Very well done, Dr Proton, thank you for your hard work. I look forward to your further blog posts.

  6. Peter Thorne Says:

    I very much hope that this is not so much a farewell as a new chapter and new experimentation. We need more folks who can be passionate and engaging about science in the public sphere. Many more. Anyone who has not seen a talk by you should add it to their proverbial bucketlist now.

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